Sunday, September 15, 2013

Marathon JSAR review

Today we are reviewing the Marathon JSAR or Jumbo SAR (Search And Rescue). It is also known as the LGP or Le Grande Plongeur. The watch under review is the Gen 1 version of the watch. Well sort off, we will get more into it during the review. The current iteration of the watch is Gen 2 (if I am not mistaken).

But before we begin with the review, lets look at the Marathon Watch Company. The Marathon Watch Company started life as Weinsturm Watch, founded in 1904. It was later renamed Wein Brothers. In 1939 Morris Wein founded the Marathon Watch Company in Montreal, Canada. It's main function was to supply fine precision timepieces to retailers throughout North America. In 1941, it began manufacturing timing instruments for the Allied Forces. This tradition continues today.


The watch case is made of 316L stainless steel. Upfront, it important to note that this is a big watch. It measurements: 46.6mm diameter, 50mm across with crown, 17mm thick, 22mm lug width and 55mm lug to lug. It also weighs in at almost 160 grams.

The watch is very made and the finish is very good. The watch has a brushed finish (throughout). Although the watch is 17mm thick, most of it is accounted by the bezel. It has a very thick bezel, coming in at 7mm. The 120 click uni-directional bezel is machined and comes with 24 notches to aid in turning the bezel. Each notch is 3.5mm wide. The area between the notches is bead blasted. The bezel turns smoothly and clicks into position positively. Some might find that the bezel turns much to easily.

The bezel insert, I believe is aluminium and is very narrow at 3mm wide. It is rendered in black while all the markers are in white. It has all the necessary diving markers and the only luminous plot is the pip at the 12 o'clock position. I like the fact that the bezel is marked throughout unlike many dive watches which are only marked (minutes wise) for the first 15 or 20 minutes.

The crown is protected by two crown protectors or crown guards. The crown is unsigned and has a knurled finish. The crown measures 6mm in diameter and is 4mm thick. The crown does not wobble when pulled out and it is easy to use. The crown has 4 different positions, locked or screwed down, unlock-ready for winding, position 1 for quick-set date adjustment and position 2 for time adjustment.

Although the watch is marked Gen 1, the crown fitted to the watch is actually from the Gen 2. The original Gen 1 crown is thicker by 0.5mm. The newer crown is to address complains that the older crown was to thick and would dig into the wrist. The knurling on the Gen 1 is 'larger' than on the Gen 2 crown.

The difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2 crowns.

Photograph: UKwolfeman

The case back is of the screw down design and has a circular brush finish. It has 6 notches along the edge of the case back to facilitate removal and installation. The watch has one of the most writing on a case back in any watch I have seen. In the center of the case back you will find the watch water resistant rating (30 ATM), and a host of other markings such as contract number (yes, this is an issued watch), the model (being LGP), ISO rating, in this case ISO 6425 for dive watches, date issued and the serial number. The number 1/XXXXX denotes Gen 1. You can read more about the ISO 6425 standards here:

Around the center legends and markings, we have the following markings, 316L All Stainless Steel, again its WR, Swiss Made and finally, High Torque Quartz. It is important to note that this watch has been modified and the quartz movement has been replaced with a mechanical heart.

If I have any complains about the case design, it would be the lug width. I wish it was 24mm instead of 22mm. A watch this butch should have wider lugs. Best thing about the design? Lug holes. And the fact that the lugs extend slightly beyond the case back prevent the case back from being scratched when the watch is placed on its back.


The watch has an interesting if not busy dial design. It is of the military type design with all the necessary military markings, which makes the dial rather busy. Luckily Marathon has decided to go with different font size for the markings, making it not as busy. On the black matte dial you find the 12 hour markings on the inside of the hour markers and below it, in smaller and thinner font, the 24 hour markings. The use of the thinner and smaller font almost makes the 24 hour marking invisible at a glance.

The dial is set deep in the watch, giving the dial a stadium like effect. The rehaut is thick. The baton hour markers are raised and filled with C3 SuperLuminova. The 12 o'clock marker is differentiated with an orange marker. The hour markers are further enhanced with lume dots on the rehaut. Each hour markers has a corresponding single lume dot on the rehaut save the 12 o'clock marker which have 2.

Other markings you find on the dial is pretty standard with other watches. The brand and logo at the 12 o'clock position and the watch water resistant rating (30 ATM) at the 6 o'clock position (rendered in orange).

The date is displayed via a date window at the 4:30 o'clock position. The date window is pretty discrete. The date wheel is white on black. The font used in this watch is of the Gen 2 version and not the Gen 1 version.


The hands are unique in design. Some have called it a variation of the plongeur style but I call it the sausage hands. The hands are well made and fat. The hour and minutes hands are sufficiently differentiated to make time telling at a glance easy. The minute hand extends to the minute markers while the hour hand to the hour markers. The sweep second hand extends to the minute markers as well. All the hands are coated white.

The hands are SuperLuminova filled, and there are lots of it. The sweep second hand tip is orange lume coated. Nice touch. 


The watch is fitted with a 3mm thick sapphire crystal, which I believe has AR coating on the inside. The crystal itself is 36.5mm in diameter. The crystal is pretty flush to the bezel, so there is less chance of scratching or chipping the crystal.


This watch is originally fitted with the high torque ISA 1198-103 quartz movement. This is a 11 ligne, 1 jewel movement. Since the watch is a Gen 1 version, it is possible to replace the quartz movement with a mechanical movement, in this case with an ETA 2824-2. This watch has undergone such a modification. You can read about it here.

The ISA 1198.

The ETA 2824.

Bracelet/ strap.

The watch does come with a bracelet as an option (reference WW005007). This watch came with a vulcanised rubber strap with a stainless steel buckle. The rubber strap is well made and measures 22mm at lug mount point and tapers down to 20mm at the tip. The hole side measures 120mm while the buckle side is 75mm. The strap is 4mm thick at lug mount point and tapers down to 3mm at the tip.

The inside of the strap is textured while the top is smooth. It does come with two very thin floating strap keeper. The keepers are 5mm wide. There are 7 holes on the strap providing adjustment over 42mm.

The buckle is made of stainless steel and is well made. It has a brushed finish and is signed 'Marathon'.

The package does come with a Maratac black Zulu fabric strap (and extra spring bars). I did not mount the Zulu strap.

Personally I find the rubber strap a tad on the thin side and have swap out the strap and mounted a thicker leather strap.


This is huge chunk of metal and you can feel it when worn It is a tool watch. There is no mistaking it for anything else. Yet it is comfortable on my wrist (8 inches). I like my watches larger and this one ticks every box. And best of all, it is ISO 6425 rated. I like this version of the watch as it incorporates the improvements of Gen 2 but with the advantage of Gen 1 (conversion to automatic).

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